This month I had the opportunity to spend some time talking to Wortham Boyle, a strong member of our community. Wortham is the VP of Property and Causality at Jones Insurance Company. He has a passion for coming alongside men and women in their business endeavors that allows him to serve his clients well and contributes to his desire to participate in the Forum on myCAI.
In our conversation we discussed how he ended up in insurance, what he loves about the business, the insurance basics all HR people need to know, and recommended some amazing business resources.
Tell me a little about yourself.
I am an insurance agent and partner at Jones Insurance – one of the largest locally-owned firms in the Triangle. I grew up in South Carolina and attended undergraduate at NC State through the generosity of the Park Scholarship program and later Duke for graduate school. I am married and have two young sons.
How did you end up in insurance?
I have always loved business; every aspect of it. I was part of a general contracting business after college and our focus was restoration of residential and commercial buildings. This typically involved insurance claims. I spent a lot of time with insurance adjusters and insurance agents and learned a lot about coverage. I also built a strong network in the industry. I was solicited a good bit, but was just entrenched in the business. As our contracting business grew to multiple states and close to 200 employees, my focus became operations. I was very involved and would find my hands in finance, human resources, insurance, benefits, contract negotiation, culture, fleet, safety etc. I was getting to see and touch every aspect of the business and it was all working and really exciting. During the recession, while other contracting businesses suffered – we experienced double digit growth. This caught the notice of private equity investors who eventually made an offer that was too hard for the partners to ignore.
I was starting my family and looking for a more family-friendly pace. I had developed a relationship with Mr. Jones and we continued our conversations and I made the change over to insurance.
What’s your favorite aspect of your current position?
I get to dive into so many different businesses now and hear so many stories of perseverance and success. Businesses are the backbone of our communities and economy. I love having the opportunity to come in and evaluate their insurance program and it is rewarding when you are able to identify coverage gaps and help them protect their business. When you do that, you protect more than their bottom line – you protect the jobs they have created as well. It is an incredible responsibility to make sure they are aware of their risks and the options available to them to backstop their liability.
Of course, when I was a contractor and buyer of insurance – I would rather run laps around the building than sit in a meeting getting educated on insurance by our agent. I always had some sort of fire that needed to be put out and that meeting was keeping me from getting my work done! I think that awareness on my part is appreciated by most of the folks I work with. I let them know the depth of knowledge is there if they want to hear it – but I try to keep it simple if they don’t ask for it.
What’s the one thing you wish all HR professionals knew about insurance?
Two things really. First, there are two types of agents out there. Those that focus on price and those that focus on advice. Each has their place, but know which one you want to engage with. A good insurance advisor is less focused on selling an insurance product and more focused on giving good advice. Often times the advice, when followed, will yield a better price. Not only in the hidden and indirect costs associated with a claim (overhead) but also the cost of the insurance product designed to cover you when good processes could not prevent the claim.
The second thing would definitely be letting them know how much impact they can have over the cost of workers compensation insurance. A solid return-to-work and light-duty program is becoming much more common, but many employers still lack a solid screening process for new hires. Implementing detailed job descriptions, post-offer/pre-hire medical questionnaires, and pre-employment physical assessments are worth the investment. For heavy labor, an outsourced safety manager pays for themselves easily.
Have there been any books, blogs, or resources that have been particularly helpful to you in your career? They don’t necessarily need to be HR specific.
This is a dangerous question, because I really like to read and learn. I usually start and end my day reading. I follow some thought leaders on LinkedIn and enjoy reading their posts. I get morning emails with headlines from my industry and industries that I serve and tend to follow what is interesting or relevant. Obviously, CAI puts out great articles on the HR front for breaking news and regulatory changes.
Outside of articles, recent books that have really invigorated me are “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek and “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. I also really enjoyed “About My Father’s Business” by Regi Campbell. It is about viewing business as having a greater purpose.
For resources, I participate in a business-owner peer group called C12 which is a diverse group of Christian business owners. We take one day out of the month and gather to focus on improving our businesses, families, and ourselves. We help each other navigate some of the more complex issues that business owners face. It is incredibly powerful and while I dread being disconnected – I really look forward to that time together and having such a solid group of advisors.